Climate policies to cut pollution-related deaths

Europe's climate policies could prevent 20,000 premature deaths a year by cutting ozone and fine particle pollution, a new report from the European Environment Agency has found.

As well as helping meet Europe’s target of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees C, lower emissions from fossil fuels will benefit air quality by reducing pollutants concentrations at ground level, the report found. This should cut the costs of implementing air pollution abatement policies by 10bn euros per year.

The report, Air quality and ancillary benefits of climate change policies, looked at the effects of climate and air quality policies between now and 2030.

It concluded that the EU’s long-term goal of attaining air quality that does not seriously harm human health cannot be reached through air pollution abatement policies alone.

Although Europe’s Thematic Strategy on air pollution will improve air quality between now and 2030, it not prevent 311,000 people dying prematurely each year due to ground-level ozone and particulate matter pollution.

Through the combined effects of climate and air quality policies, the number of predicted air pollution-related deaths falls to 288,000 by 2030. This would not fulfill the EU’s long-term goal of cutting out premature deaths from ground-source pollution altogether, but it would mean that 20,000 lives are saved annually.

But even if the maximum feasible cuts in pollutant emissions from land sources are combined with climate policies, 200,000 people will still die each year as a result of pollution with ozone and fine particles, the report found.

This is due to non-land based sources, especially shipping, and these would have to be reduced to further cut premature deaths, the report concluded.

The full report can be found at the EEA website.

Goska Romanowicz

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